Chana Szlang Gonshor was interviewed by Jordan Kutzik and Anna Gonshor on December 14, 2011 at the Montreal Jewish Public Library. This interview is entirely in Yiddish.
Chana Szlang Gonshor was born into a poor Jewish home in Warsaw in 1919 and was mostly raised by her grandparents. She attended Bundist and Labor Zionist elementary schools which taught every subject, other than Polish, in Yiddish. She spent much of her formative years in the Bundist Medem Sanatorium and is one of the last two surviving graduates of the institution. She describes the Sanatorium in great detail, including how the "children's republic" was run and the impact it had on the lives of those who attended it. She also recalls the violent pogrom launched against the Sanatorium in 1931 by communists and enthusiastically sings many songs she learned there. After surviving the war in Siberia she returned to Poland with her husband and two sons and lived in a DP camp until 1948 when she immigrated to Canada. She emotionally describes her arrival in Halifax and relates a funny story in which her son was handed a banana and, not knowing what it was, began eating it without peeling it. She further describes Jewish life in Montreal in the 1950s and 1960s and the Warsaw Ghetto stories that some of her close friends related to her after the war.* She describes the changing nature of Holocaust memorials over the decades and discusses her grandchildren's varying levels of proficiency in Yiddish and how one of her grandsons refuses to speak to her in English. Throughout the interview she also sings about ten songs that she remembers from her childhood in the 1920s and early 1930s.
*The historical accuracy of oral history interviews requires the verification of other sources. For a first-hand account of the underground movement in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two which Chana references in this interview, please see Bernard Goldstein's Five Years in the Warsaw Ghetto: http://www.akpress.org/fiveyearsinthewarsawghetto.html.
To learn more about the Wexler Oral History Project, visit: http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/tell-your-story
To cite this interview: Chana Szlang Gonshor Oral History Interview, interviewed by Jordan Kutzik, Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project, Montreal, Canada, December 14, 2011. Video recording, http://archive.org/details/ChanaGonshor14december2011YiddishBookCenter ( [date accessed] )